When driving a large van such as a Sprinter, emissions are always a concern. You want to make sure that what is being emitted into the atmosphere is not harmful. This is where the DPF comes in. Below is information about what the DPF is, what signs to look for when it becomes clogged, and how to fix it.
The Function of the DPF in Your Sprinter
DPF stands for Diesel Particulate Filter. The DPF is an exhaust aftertreatment device that is responsible for trapping particulate matter, such as ash and soot. The DPF is typically made out of a ceramic-like material and is molded into the shape of a honeycomb.
Being a diesel vehicle, your Sprinter gives off a lot of emissions. The DPF was created and designed to combat these harmful emissions. The diesel particulate filter captures and stores the soot so it is not released into the environment. To keep the filter clean, the soot is periodically burned off.
Passive or Active Regeneration
The diesel particulate filter was designed with a regeneration feature that allows for the filter to burn the soot and clean itself. This regeneration process is responsible for ensuring that your Sprinter does not emit black smoke during acceleration. The regeneration process works either one of two ways, passive regeneration or active regeneration.
In passive regeneration, the soot trapped in the DPF is burned due to the heat of the engine. When the engine gets hot enough, the soot burns and combines with oxygen to create carbon dioxide, which is then able to escape from the DPF to the atmosphere.
The ash particles that are not burned by the engine heat will eventually need to be cleaned manually. As your Sprinter is running throughout the day, passive regeneration is occurring. Although, there may be times when the passive regeneration does not work as well so active regeneration occurs.
Active regeneration occurs when your Sprinter is not creating enough engine heat. This is usually because the load is not heavy enough for the engine to produce a high amount of heat. So when the right amount of heat is not created, regeneration cannot occur and soot levels rise. At this point, the engine injects fuel into the exhaust system. The fuel goes over the oxidation catalyst where it is oxidized. Once this has been done, the heat from the oxidized fuel will be enough to burn the soot.
Signs of a Clogged DPF
When neither passive nor active regeneration works, the diesel particulate filter will become clogged. When this happens, your trusted, trained technician can perform a parked active regeneration. But before that occurs, you have to know the signs of a clogged DPF so you know when to bring your Sprinter in for service.
One sign to be on the lookout for is an orange light illuminating on the dashboard. The diesel particle filter light is different from the check engine light and looks like a pipe with bubbles (to symbolize the honeycomb shape) with smoke coming from it. This light tells you that there is an issue with the DPF system and that it is clogged or needs to be cleaned.
Another sign is a strong diesel smell. This smell occurs because all of the byproducts of the diesel fuel are clogged in the diesel particulate filter and not being cleaned. With this buildup of diesel particles, the smell will be noticeable.
One last sign to be mindful of is an increased amount of black smoke coming from the exhaust pipe. The whole purpose of the DPF is to minimize and potentially eliminate the amount of black smoke that comes from your Sprinter. When the DPF is clogged, the burning of the particles does not occur so it is forced out in black smoke. When you see this smoke, you know it is time to have your DPF looked at.
How to Deal with the Clogged DPF
Sometimes, fixing the clogged DPF is as easy as taking a long drive on the highway at a high speed to generate enough engine heat for the regeneration process to occur. Other times this method is not enough and you will need to bring your Sprinter into Hayes European.
Hayes European is easily accessible from the areas of Santa Cruz, Aptos, Soquel, and Capitola, CA. We have trained and certified technicians available to diagnose the exact issue with the DPF. We only use high-quality parts to replace or repair the filter. You will be driving cleanly on the road in no time. Give us a call or stop by to speak to one of our technicians.